C. Specific Initiatives of the Strategy
Among the many important programs within the Strategy, the following are worthy of special mention:
1. Youth-Oriented Prevention Initiatives
Research indicates that youngsters who do not use illegal drugs, alcohol, and tobacco before the age of eighteen are more likely to avoid chemical-dependency problems over the course of their lives. The Strategy focuses on reducing risk factors -- like chaotic home environments, and drug-using peers -- and increasing protective factors -- such as parental involvement, success in school, strong bonds with family, school, and religious organizations, and knowledge of dangers posed by drug use. The following are examples of the initiatives contained in the Strategy:
The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign
ONDCP, with the assistance of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA) and the Ad Council, is implementing a multifaceted communications campaign involving parents, mass media, corporate America, and anti-drug coalitions. The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign will counteract media messages and images that glamorize, legitimize, normalize, or otherwise condone drug use. Youth aged nine to seventeen, and the adults who influence them, will be targeted by the campaign. Campaign messages will accurately depict drug use and its consequences and encourage parents to discuss drug abuse with children.
Congress appropriated $195 million for the campaign last year, making it one of the largest paid advertising efforts ever undertaken by government. Over the past year, ONDCP has consulted with hundreds of communications and marketing professionals, educators, prevention and treatment experts, public health specialists, and public officials to design the campaign's development process. Anti-drug ads began airing in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boise, Denver, Hartford, Houston, Milwaukee, Portland (OR), San Diego, Sioux City, Tucson, and Washington, D.C. in January.
This summer, ONDCP will expand the anti-drug advertising component nationwide, using national and local television (both broadcast and cable), radio, and print media. In the fall, a fully-integrated campaign will reach target audiences through TV, radio, print, Internet, and other media outlets. The campaign's reach will be extended through corporate sponsorship, cooperation with the entertainment-industry, programming changes, and media matches (for example, contributions to cover public-service time and space). Prevention experts believe this public-private campaign will influence attitudes of youths towards drugs within two years.
Prevention in Schools and Universities
The Department of Education's Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Program provides funds for virtually every school district to support drug and violence-prevention programs. This program, one of the federal government's primary vehicles for reducing juvenile drug use, focuses on improving the quality of drug and violence-prevention instruction and changing attitudes regarding illegal drugs, underage drinking, and smoking. In FY1999, the Administration is proposing to begin an initiative to ensure that 50 percent of middle schools have drug-prevention coordinators within two years. A range of other programs, such as the FBI's "Adopt a School Program," and ONDCP's funding for the "FAST" (Families and Schools Together) program, are also underway to help "at risk" kids through mentoring, tutorial and other support efforts.
Illegal drug use and binge drinking remain serious problems on our nation's college campuses. This current school year, several college students died as a result of binge drinking, and many more were admitted to hospitals for injuries sustained while drinking. In 1998, the Department of Education will lead a collaborative effort among federal agencies to learn more about this problem and the most effective strategy for dealing with it. Education will support a Center to provide training and technical assistance to colleges to help them combat binge drinking and drug use, and will fund several projects to demonstrate effective approaches for preventing binge drinking.
Expanding Community Anti-Drug Coalitions
Not all at-risk children can be reached through school-based prevention. The Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997 recognizes that the problem of illegal drugs must be addressed at the community level. The Drug-Free Communities Act authorizes $143.5 million in matching grants over the next five years to support existing coalitions and expand the number of coalitions by ten thousand. The Act authorizes the President to establish a Commission on Drug-Free Communities to advise ONDCP concerning matters related to the program. We expect the President to name the members of this Commission this Spring.
Parenting and Mentoring
Parental involvement in children's lives reduces the likelihood of drug use. Parents must understand that they -- not schools, community groups, or the government -- can make the biggest difference in shaping children's attitudes and values. A number of initiatives are underway to strengthen the role of parents and mentors. The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) has launched an initiative to reduce drug use by youth age twelve to seventeen. A key component is the State Incentive Grant Program, which will assist states in developing coordinated statewide substance-abuse prevention systems. A complementary Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) program will help disseminate proven prevention strategies. ONDCP, in cooperation with the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is supporting a "Parenting is Prevention" initiative to mobilize national anti-drug organizations and strengthen their role in schools and communities. The National Institute on Drug Abuse's (NIDA) pamphlet, Preventing Drug Use Among Children and Adolescents, provides prevention principles for communities.
Civic and Service Alliance
In 1997, the leaders of 33 national and international civic and service organizations, representing fifty-five million volunteers, signed a "Prevention Through Service" civic alliance. Signatories -- including 100 Black Men, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Lions Club International, and the National Masonic Foundation for Children -- agreed to increase public awareness, promote communication about effective prevention, network among organizations and communities, provide leadership and scholarship, and encourage volunteerism, as well as service to families. Collectively, the organizations will support prevention efforts across the nation with one million volunteer hours.
Working with the Child Welfare System
The safety of children and well-being of families are jeopardized by the strong correlation between chemical dependency and child abuse. For example, in 1997, an average of 67 percent of parents involved with the child welfare system needed substance-abuse treatment. If prevention and treatment are not provided to this high-risk population, the same families will remain extensively involved in the welfare and criminal-justice systems. With funding from ONDCP, the Child Welfare League of America is developing resources and other tools for assessing and reducing substance abuse among parents and preventing drug use by abused children from substance-abusing families.
Preventing Alcohol Use and Drunk and Drugged Driving Among Youth
The Strategy recommends educating youth, their mentors, and the public about the dangers of underage drinking; limiting access of youth to alcoholic beverages; encouraging communities to support alcohol-free behavior on the part of youth; and creating incentives as well as disincentives that discourage alcohol abuse by young people. Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for our nation's youth. To help reduce the number of these deaths, NHTSA is addressing alcohol and drug-related crashes among young people. Implementing the President's "Youth, Drugs, and Driving" initiative, NHTSA is providing law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges with training and education for detecting, arresting, and sanctioning juvenile alcohol and drug offenders. States are urged to enact zero-tolerance laws to reduce drinking and driving among teens. Civic and service organizations are encouraged to collaborate with organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Students Against Destructive Decisions.
Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth
Several federal agencies are involved in increasing awareness among youth of the dangers of tobacco use. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is enforcing regulations that reduce youth access to cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. The FDA also will conduct a publicity campaign in 1998 to encourage compliance by merchants. State enforcement of laws prohibiting sale of tobacco products to minors will be monitored by SAMHSA/CSAP. CDC supports the "Research to Classrooms" project to identify and expand school-based tobacco-prevention efforts; CDC also will fund initial research on tobacco-cessation programs for youth. The Administration is calling for legislation that sets a target of reducing teen smoking by 60 percent in ten years. Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, and other states have ongoing paid anti-tobacco campaigns addressing underage use.
International Demand-Reduction Initiatives
Drug use has become a serious international problem requiring multi-disciplinary prevention. The United States supports demand-reduction efforts by the U.N. Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), the European Union, the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) of the Organization of American States (OAS), and other multilateral institutions. Advancing international demand reduction initiatives will play a significant role in U.S. efforts at the upcoming Santiago Summit, and U.N. General Assembly Special Session. Further, as part of our binational drug-control efforts, the United States and Mexico will conduct a demand-reduction conference in El Paso, Texas, this month. Demand-reduction experts from Caribbean nations will consider regional responses to drug abuse during an ONDCP-hosted conference in Miami this summer.
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